Jeramey Jannene

Bucks Boycott Game, Response to Jacob Blake Shooting

Team's playoff game called off. "Police department has to change," says a player.

By - Aug 26th, 2020 03:35 pm
Fiserv Forum with Fear the Deer playoffs graphic. Image from the Milwaukee Bucks.

Fiserv Forum with Fear the Deer playoffs graphic. Image from the Milwaukee Bucks.

The Milwaukee Bucks players boycotted their playoff game against the Orlando Magic in the NBA’s league bubble at Disney World in the wake of the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha.

The team never took the court for the game, scheduled to begin shortly after 3:00 p.m., and stayed within their locker room.

The team had not publicly indicated it may boycott the game, but discussion of a possible boycott by members of the Toronto Raptors and Boston Celtics leaked earlier Wednesday.

FS Wisconsin color commentator Marques Johnson, a former Bucks player and African American, called it a brave stance. “When I woke up this morning I didn’t feel like coming to work,” said Johnson.

The team was among the first organizations to issue a statement after video surfaced of Blake being shot seven times by a member of the Kenosha Police Department.

Team members, including Giannis Antetokounmpo, George Hill, Sterling Brown, D.J. Wilson and Kyle Korver, participated both publicly and under cover in multiple protest marches before entering the NBA’s isolated campus in Orlando in July.

“It’s just sickening. It’s heartless. It’s a f*cked-up situation,” said Hill on August 24th about the Blake situation. He said he regrets the NBA players coming to the bubble because it took the focus off the issues of racial justice and policing. “We can’t do anything.”

“I think our police department has to change. Us as society has to change. And right now we’re not seeing any of that,” said Hill.

The players have been able to wear a pre-approved series of messages on the back of their jerseys in place of their last names. Messages include “vote,” “equality,” “say her name” and “how many more?” The courts for every league game has displayed the message “Black Lives Matter.”

“It appears it’s impacted them enough where they’ve said enough is enough and I don’t want to play a basketball game, and I don’t blame them,” said Johnson.

“People must start to listen,” said play-by-play announcer Jim Paschke.

“How many of these situations do we have to witness?” asked Johnson, ticking off a list of recent victims of police shootings. “Something needs to be done. It needs to be addressed in a forceful, aggressive, productive manner.”

“He’s still a human being, I don’t care what he did,” said Johnson of Blake. “He didn’t deserve to be shot in the back seven times in front of his three kids.”

“How often have we heard that words are cheap but actions matter? Today the Milwaukee Bucks have taken an action that we hope matters,” said Paschke.

“I feel really proud,” said sideline reporter Zora Stephenson.

None of the television announcers are inside the campus, but instead work remotely from Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee.

The team played its most recent game on Monday afternoon. The Bucks’ have a 3-1 series lead in the best-of-seven series with the Magic.

The bench area was dismantled less than 10 minutes after the game was scheduled to begin, but the league had not officially announced the game’s cancelation at the time of publication.

After the article was initially published, Hill left the locker room wearing a shirt that said “change the narrative.”

At least one player on the team has had a high-profile negative interaction with police in Wisconsin. Sterling Brown has a pending lawsuit against the City of Milwaukee and Milwaukee Police Department for an incident in which he was tased, stepped on and arrested after parking illegally in a Walgreens parking lot.

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